As I mentioned at the end of my last blog, this week I was expecting a visitor My mum flew in from Australia on Monday night which was really exciting! I decided that this week’s blog would be a written guide of the tour I gave to her so that you can have a bit of a sense of what you are arriving into – a ‘know before you go’ in a sense from a fellow exchange student.
On Tuesday morning we did a lap of campus as I was eager to show her as much as possible – so I’m going to try and describe my walking tour and give you as much information on campus as I can. You will be taken on a campus tour during Orientation Week but it’s a lot to take in in one hit and for Spring Semester students, you will be walking through the snow most likely so if you are anything like me, concentrating and freezing are not two activities you will be able to do simultaneously.
We entered campus from Georgetown so our town begins up near City Hall – this is one of the on-campus accommodation blocks that you may be placed in to live. Whilst all dorms are different, I believe city hall has a number of 2 person share rooms and each have a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen (or at least the apartments that I’ve seen do). City Hall is definitely in a good position – it’s the closest building to Georgetown and is just behind the metro station and Wholefoods area – but it is a bit older than the other buildings.
Moving on to Wholefoods and the surrounding restaurants – this is a well-frequented area for all students as it’s the spot for groceries and take away food. GW doesn’t have a dining hall or meal plan (there is a dining hall area but really only freshmen go there from what I understand – its called J-Street and it’s in the Marvin Centre – we will get to that in a minute). So, I think I speak for a lot of GW students when I say that Wholefoods essentially replaces a dining hall and becomes a very handy source of food when you cannot be bothered to cook.
I could be wrong but I don’t think that any of the international students are in an apartment without a kitchen so there is definitely always the option to cook and prepare food – this will definitely be the most budget friendly option! However, for those times you don’t want to cook – around Wholefoods you will find:
- Devon and Blakely – Soup and sandwiches
- Circa – Nice restaurant with pretty good food
- Roti – Mediterranean style food
- Sweet green – Salads
- Beefsteak – Salads/Vegetarian food
- Wholefoods – Groceries, ready-to-go food, sushi, pizza, etc
Around the back of the block with all of this on it is also a burger place in case that tickles your fancy more.
Continuing on from that area – to your right you will see the beginnings of the major classroom buildings. To give an idea of where each of the buildings is in writing is not going to be an interesting read so I’m going to leave the topic of classrooms by saying, they’re easy to find and everyone is friendly so will happily point you in the right direction. The only thing that can be a bit tricky is that what looks like one building has multiple names depending on the entrance – again, just ask – someone will help you undoubtably. Majority of the classrooms are within the main blocks of campus too so it’s not too challenging. The K street rooms are a bit beyond the square that GW fits within, as is the G street block. I have a class in G Street and I think that it would be a good piece of advice to suggest that if possible, if you are taking a class in this building, try and leave yourself time between classes to get there – I have 10 mintues to get from Phillips (which is opposite Wholefoods) to G street and even though its only a few blocks, my first class rarely lets out exactly on time making the walk a very quick one! Just something to be mindful of if you can. Also, when they say on the schedule that you need to leave half an hour between classes on main campus and on the Vern, they are not exaggerating. You will need to take the free shuttle bus (known on campus as the VEX) and it is a fair distance – this is important to note as otherwise you will miss the beginning of every class!
Okay, back on my walking tour…so from Wholefoods, when you turn right and head down past the Phillips building, and then left again, you will find yourself across the road from Gelman Starbucks – rumor has it that this Starbucks is the second most frequented in America. Whether or not this is true, I’m not too sure, but there is always a long line in there irrespective of the time of day.
1. The line moves pretty quickly so if you have the time, you will make it to the front eventually .
2. NEVER try go to Starbucks on the hour or half hour that a class ends – try and go at obscure times – this is a good rule for most food places on campus. By going 15 minutes earlier, you will save yourself HEAPS of time in lines!
3. The food court in the Marvin Centre has some coffee shops – one even sells starbucks blend coffee so if you can’t wait at Gelman Starbucks, cross the road and head in there.
4. There is another Starbucks on E Street next to the E street dorms and near the Elliott School – there is often a line there too but it’s a lot more reasonable than the one at Gelman!
Who would have thought getting your morning coffee could be such an art!
So, as I mentioned across the road and up a little bit is the Marvin Centre. This is a building you will get to know well during Orientation so I wont go into too much detail, but basically, all the resources, etc that you need are in this one building. Amongst a bunch of other things some of things you can do at the Marvin Centre (beyond getting food and coffee) are: - Go to the doctor - Get your GWorld card - Put money on your GWorld card (you can do this at multiple places on campus though) - Pay outstanding fees - Buy all your GW merchandise - Visit the Study Abroad office - Find the ballrooms (there are often events held here like careers expos, club showcases, etc)
And more. Basically the only things that you need as an international student that aren’t in this building are:
- The key depot
- The post/mail centre
- The ISO which is the International Office where you need to check in (visa requirement – don’t worry, you will do this in Orientation Week) and where you need to get your visa signed if you want to travel out of America (this includes Canada and Mexico – cant tell you how many times I have heard that question asked!) suggestion: take this to be signed by the ISO in Week 1 of your time at GW – you will thank yourself later when you have forgotten all about it and have to rush to get it done – they take 10 days to do it so leave yourself time or you will have to cancel your trip.
Okay – so the Marvin Centre is a great resource and is in a really important area of campus. Across the road you will find CVS which is backed by the Village Shopping Centre – a small centre with some food venues, clothes shops, the UPS store, etc. CVS will be your go to store – most things that you need can be purchased at CVS.
We are back tracking here, past some great sculptures – for example Martha (the hippo) – I’m going to leave the hippo stories at that and challenge you to try and work out the significance of the hippo for yourself – and many many heads of George Washington sporadically found around campus. So, as we walk back past the side of the Marvin Centre, back towards Starbucks, you will find one of the entrances into Kogan Plaza which is just an open area that has the back of the Lisner Auditorium, the entrance to Gelman (the library), a nice courtyard and the creepiest statue of George Washington known to man. There is a life-like sculpture on a bench that, when you leave the library in the dark late at night, will undoubtedly give you a heart attack every single time. The Gelman library is obviously another good resource – it has plenty of study space when your dorm is too noisy, printers, computers, books, etc – everything you expect to find in a library. The staff are really friendly and are always more than happy to help if you cant find something – which you likely wont be able to because the books are everywhere! Not in a chaotic sense, just in the sheer volume of them!
Behind the library is Duques – one of the big classroom buildings, which is backed onto by Funger – the business school. I am mentioning this school in particular because the VEX goes from out the front of Fungar so if you have classes or accommodation on the Mount Vernon campus, this will be an important stop to you. Opposite from there is the GW Deli which has delicious bagels but also often has an insanely long line – again, don’t go just as classes let out unless you really enjoy standing in lines.
At the end of the street where the Deli is, is Tonic – a restaurant that is popular amongst students because of their tater tots (potato gems). They have Happy Hour (which seems to be nearly as popular as brunch in DC – everyone goes out for Brunch or Happy Hour) where they have $4 tots – this seems to attract a lot of people and substantial lines. They are delicious though.
As we continue our walk towards E Street (which will be our final destination), you will pass the mail centre (one block down and to the left from Tonic) which is where all your packages will come in, and on top of that is the key depot – which is where you will get your keys (not if you live in E Street as your GWorld card is your key) and your mail box codes as your letters will still arrive to your building. Next door is Carvings which has burgers, fries, mozerella sticks, sandwiches, breakfast, etc – it’s open late at night making it a popular stop for lots of students!
Finally, as you turn right at the end of the street and walk back the old main building (where the ISO is), subway and then the Starbucks on the corner, you have reached E Street! This is another dorm that has many exchange students in it this semester – it’s where I live – and despite being a little further down from the rest, is a much newer and in my opinion nicer building. We are next door to the Elliott School too for students taking international relations, etc. I skipped talking about the other two buildings that you will mainly find exchange students in because we didn’t take that road – But Shenkmen (formerly Ivory – just so that you don’t get confused when people still call it Ivory) and Amsterdam are also nice and are in good locations. Near Shenkmen is also the sport centre where you will go to watch basketball games, etc. And the HellWell (Health and Wellness Centre is up in that area too).
Final note – up 20th Street – the street that E Street dorms corner, if you walk up toward to the Village shops (where CVS is on the other side) you will find Founding Farmers – personal favorite for brunch and lunch – so delicious! But I will do another blog about DC recommendations for when you get here .
I hope that this has been in some way helpful in giving you a bit of a blue print on what to expect when you get here and where to find particular things. As I mentioned, everyone is very friendly and will happily point you in the right direction. The nice thing about the GW campus is that it is very easy to get to know – you may feel lost for the first week but you will definitely get the hang of it after that!
I wanted to take some more photos but I am currently in Vegas for the weekend with my mum and so whilst there are some photos here for you, I will definitely try and post some more later on.
And so, as always, until next time…